Last year’s flu season was particularly bad and the worst since 2009. Over 90,000 people in NSW were struck down by the flu - with more than twice the number of people being admitted to hospital with influenza than in a typical year*.
So this year we're encouraging you to prevent influenza where possible through immunisation.
While you should encourage most people to be immunised, the following groups are particularly vulnerable to flu, and for them it’s free of charge:
- all children from 6 months to 5 years (including Aboriginal and medically at risk children)
- all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15 years and over
- all pregnant women
- people aged 6 months and older, with chronic medical conditions predisposing them to severe influenza
- all people 65 years and over (and also consider pneumococcal vaccination for this group)
Guidance is available from NSW Health or the Department of Health as to which vaccinations are most appropriate for the different patients you may see. You can also access the Flu Vaccine Pathway on our HealthPathways website.
Health Information about latex in some vaccines
- There are two new higher-immunogenicity trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV) formulations available for adults aged >65 years.
- Fluad® and Fluarix Tetra® contain latex in the needle sheath. Special orders can be arranged for patients with severe latex allergies via your public health unit on 1300 066 055.
- FluQuadri Junior should only be administered to children aged 6 to 35 months.
For more information about this visit the TGA website or the NSW Health website.
Practice Winter Strategy
What else can my practice do?
We would like to encourage all practices to focus on those patients most vulnerable in the lead up to winter. The following steps can be used as a guide by you and your practice staff to be proactive to minimise the impact of the flu season.
You can also download a printable version of this step-by-step guide as a checklist.
1. Identify vulnerable patients
Indentify your patients who are most vulnerable during the winter period. These are the patients most likely to present at hospital, with chronic conditions, etc…
Action: Use the documents below to assist you to identify your most vulnerable patients.
2. Immunise vulnerable patients
Referring to the information provided above, ensure these vulnerable patients are appropriately immunised.
Action: Guidance is available from NSW Health or the Department of Health as to which vaccinations are most appropriate for the different patients you may see. You can also access the Flu Vaccine Pathway on our HealthPathways website.
3. Update GP Management Plans
Ensure any relevant GP Management Plans are updated and Team Care Arrangements are in place.
Action: Download templates from our Practice Support page.
4. Sick Day Action Plans
A Sick Day Action Plan (SDAP) is an action plan that supports patients with chronic conditions to:
- self manage their care, and
- know who to contact if they become acutely unwell or just feel sicker.
SDAPs enable patients with chronic conditions to identify and intervene quickly when they are experiencing new or increasing symptoms. This decreases the chance of significant deterioration in their health.
General practices and GPs should consider routinely incorporating these plans as part of a patient’s documented management plan. Local research into preventable hospitalisations is finding that inadequate use of sick day action plans is a major contributor to preventable hospitalisations.
Tips for developing a Sick Day Action Plan with patients and carers
- Develop the plan collaboratively with patients and carer
- Ensure the plan is clearly written at the right level of literacy – ask the patient for their own language and use this
- Include phone numbers for medical help in the plan. Make sure these are readily available and the patient knows exactly who to call at what stage of their deterioration.
- Familiarise the patient with the signs and symptoms of illness that can safely wait 24 hours for medical attention as opposed to signs and symptoms that warrant immediate emergency care.
- Discuss what possible actions the patient and carer can do safely prior to urgent medical review. Ensure the patient and carer understands these actions and are confident to do them.
- Consider what other illnesses the patient may have when developing the plan. There is often an overlap and interaction between physical and mental health in long term conditions.
- Self care plans can be useful for mental health conditions as well. They aim to help a patient focus on their strengths and feel less overwhelmed by their condition. Being better tuned in to their own early warning symptoms and having a structured plan aims to empower self care.
- Talk about the SDAP regularly during consultations and follow up to ensure the plan is still meeting the patient’s needs and they are still ready and willing to follow the plan. Patient satisfaction is a key element for helping the patient stick to their SDAP. The plan must be relevant to the person for them to want to use it.
- Review the plan with the patient and carer after an episode of illness to determine
- Was the plan implemented and steps followed properly?
- What parts of the plan worked well?
- What parts were not implemented and why?
- What (if anything) needs to change to ensure the plan works in the future?
Action: Download the appropriate Sick Day template below for your patient. Some patient information sheets are also available.
5. Authorised Ambulance Care Plan
For relevant patients, also consider setting up an Authorised Ambulance Care Plan as part of the Advance Care Planning.
Action: Read more about Advance Care Planning (or End of Life Care) and download relevant resources
6. Update My Health Record
Ensure an updated Shared Health Summary is uploaded to your patient’s My Health record to enable other clinicians to access the relevant health information of your patient when needed.
You should also ensure any medications are recorded in My Health Record.
Action: Learn about using My Health Record with your patients.
7. Update the PHN with your electronic messaging details
We keep track of GP and practice eletronic messaging details to provide to the Local Health District, which then enables you to receive Electronic Discharge Summaries for your patients.
Action: Update your information online.
8. Educate your patients and practice staff
Some simple things help prevent infection transmission. We have the following resources available for you and your practice:
- 'Winter is Coming" Brochures and Posters
- "Winter is Coming" video - use our video in your waiting room
- Hand Washing Guides and Posters
- The Importance of the “T” zone Poster
- Coughing Guides and Posters
- A 'Glitter Bug In Practice' demonstration in your practice: to show how what ineffective hand sanitising and/or hand washing looks like
Action: Order our resources through our Practice Support Online Order Form.
9. Need help?
If you want additional information or support to introduce the winter strategy into your practice, contact your Practice Support Officer.
Action: Call us on 4708 8100 or contact our Practice Support team online.
We have launched an educational campaign to raise awareness in our community about the importance of being vaccinated. This campaign includes a video that will be playing in some practices in region, as well as through cinemas and online.
Your Practice Support officer can deliver posters and/or brochures for your practice to support this educational campaign. Or you can order them online from our practice support team.
Let’s work together to increase the numbers of people vaccinated and reduce the spread of flu this season.